Riding to Ayutthaya’s Ruins

Our Saturday journey started off with a cab ride to Hualamphong (the train station),  a 2 hour train train ride to Ayutthaya, and then a crunched backseat tuk-tuk ride, where the driver dropped us off at us a backpacker/foreigner friendly street.

We fueled up on ginger drinks and spicy tofu before renting some rickety bikes. We excitedly and haphazardly rode our bikes toward the direction of Ayutthaya’s ruins.

Uneven, dusty-orange colored sidewalks led us around the ruins which spanned several streets, North to South.

Ayuttaya, now a World Heritage Site, was once the capital of Thailand (Siam at the time). In the 1300’s, and for the next couple hundred years, it was one of Southeast Asia’s most glorious capitals, and it became a powerful center for the arts and trade routes. However, after King Narai’s death, conflict ensued, and the area was invaded by the Burmese in 1767. The remaining areas we explored were Wat Maha That, which was the royal monastery, and Wat Rachaburana, a temple.

As interesting as a the ruins are, to see the dilapidated architectural glory from the past, I found it just as interesting to watch the Thai ladies and gents dolled up  for their Saturday stroll, their outfits incomplete without a cute little umbrella to shade their faces. The amount of swag that Thai people have is ridiculous.

When winding through the ruins, we came across the occasional complete Buddha, sitting straight and strong in all his stone glory.

However, it was dismembered Buddha body parts that were everywhere, remnants of the Burmese destruction.

The most captivating body part was a Buddha head which has been lodged in a Banyan Tree (Fig Tree) for thousands of years; Buddha is said to have reached enlightenment under a Banyan tree, how ironic. After a beheading by the Burmese, the young roots of this tree must have grasped the Buddha head, and the two have grown together ever since.

I, too, am continuing to grow here in Thailand, and my frequent explorations continually give me new discoveries and insight about about my current country of residence. 🙂

“It seems in fact that the more advanced society is, the greater will be its interest in ruined things, for it will see in them a redemptively sobering reminder to the fragility of its own achievements.” -Alain de Botton


  1. Deanna O'Connell | 23rd Jun 13

    Very interesting and great photos!

  2. Alexandria Adair Vasquez | 23rd Jun 13

    What kinds of insights have you gained so far?

    • Words of a Wanderer | 24th Jun 13

      Alex, the insights I have gained about Thailand are perhaps slightly skewed since I work in an extremely wealthy school. Nonetheless, I have found Thailand to be totally different than what I expected. The society is more western than I expected; people here are very materialistic and appearance oriented, despite the prevalence of Buddhism around the country. It’s quite the paradox, I’m still trying to figure it out, and I’m writing a post about it 🙂

      • Alexandria Adair Vasquez | 6th Jul 13

        VERY interesting. So do you think that it’s only the area you’re in that is so materialistic/appearance oriented (since you work at a wealthy school) or do you think that it’s indicative of something on a national level?

      • Words of a Wanderer | 13th Jul 13

        It’s hard for me know if this is something on a national level because I have not yet done much traveling outside of Bangkok. However, I do hope to keep exploring this! As I continue to travel around Thailand, I will keep you updated on my findings 🙂 It is very interesting.

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